Kentucky Derby 2021 Predictions

Seems like we did this last fall, didn’t we? Back on its regular schedule for 2021, and your humble prognosticator has some picks. I hit my exotics last September, so maybe I’ll continue my hot streak.

And as a bonus, I’ll be betting the Pick 6 and Pick 4 sequences culminating with the Derby, and also offer my picks on those races as well. Feel free to bet along with me if you also enjoy losing money.

In the Derby, the current favorite is 14 Essential Quality, whose numbers are somewhat better than the nearest competitors, but this is FAR from a slam-dunk. The horse he nosed out in the Bluegrass a month ago, 17 Highly Motivated, well, will be highly motivated to win this time, and looks to be in somewhat better form from the works. I’d look for those two to be dueling down the stretch, and a strong late closer who might outrun ’em both at that point could be 15 Rock Your World. Any one of those three, I’d figure, is the best bet to win.

Filling out my exotics will be 9 Hot Rod Charlie, sort of a question mark since he ran his best (and most recent) race with a different trainer. Doug O’Neil has won big races & the Derby before, but his record lately isn’t as strong. But I still like the odds of this one finishing third or fourth, and I’d include him in trifectas and supers. I also think 8 Medina Spirit is another horse in this category – not quite fast enough to win, but fast enough to sneak in there at third or fourth. Normally I would have rated 1 Known Agenda higher, but I really think the rail position will screw him. There are a bunch of slower horses in positions 2 through whatever who start faster than he does, and I could easily see him getting boxed out of position for most of the race. Normally he might have made my cut for possible winner, but I can only see him maneuvering out of traffic to possibly only come in third or fourth. So another one for the exotics.

We have a twenty cent Pick 6 sequence of all stakes races leading up to the big race, so here goes:

Race 7: In the Derby City Distaff, the overwhelming favorite is 4 Gamine, and I can’t see a good argument for anyone else. If there’s any reason he gets scratched, I’ll go with 3 Bell’s The One, but I’ll single Gamine here.

Race 8: In the Pat Day Mile, I like the 3 Jackie’s Warrior and the 8 Dream Shake.

Race 9: Also the start of a Pick 4, the American Turf Stakes, and I like the 4 Annex and the 13 Scarlett Sky. The 1 Excellent Timing, intrigues me a bit and I’ll include him on the Pick 4 and not my Pick 6. He’s fast and undefeated (good), but he’s never been at this class level or on turf (iffy).

Race 10: In the Churchill Downs Stakes, I like 9 Whitmore and 4 Flagstaff, along with 3 Basin as my longshot to add to the Pick 4.

Race 11: The Turf Classic gave me the most grief. A lot of horses can win this one, I kept going over it and going over it again and kept coming up with different groups, so I keep wondering if this is a race that’ll kill all my tickets…. but in any case, I think I’ll go with the 5 Domestic Spending and the 7 Smooth Like Strait in my Pick 6 and throw in the 9 Ride A Comet, the 3 Colonel Liam and possibly last fall’s winner of this race, the 6 Digital Age, in the Pick 4. All the horses have very similar numbers. The 5 and 7 are slightly better and came in 1 and 2 by a neck at Del Mar, so here’s looking at a rematch, I guess. But this one might need some editing.

I might edit the tickets Saturday… the pick 4 looks a little fat and the pick 6 a little thin, but whatever.

Your mileage may vary.

No, I Really Don’t Care

No predictions. Won’t be watching. Did not see ANY of the nominees. None. Zero. Zilch.

I may in the future, but a lot of ’em sound pretty yawn-worthy.

It’s an asterisk year.

Okay, one prediction: the awards will be given out largely on the basis on politics more than any other previous year.

Another reason not to bother.

A Brief Nature Walk

I took a break from overdosing on college basketball & watching my bracket go POOF today with a walk to a nearby ‘hood with a duck pond.

Signs everywhere implore people not to feed the little bastards, but as soon as I knelt down to take the above pic, this trio waddled towards me rather aggressively since I’d clearly given them the “Big scary monkey is about to give us free food” body language. Everyone must feed them since they’re so damn cute! This made me wonder about all the non-cute animals people don’t feed – spiders, wolverines, possums…. or the coyotes wandering my neighborhood (unless they leave their pets outside, I guess).

I had no food, so that big brown one on the left took it upon himself to try eating my hand. He gave up after two pecks. I guess I don’t taste good. I didn’t try to pat him.

They don’t want affection. They just want a handout, those cold unfeeling duck whores. No wonder Scrooge McDuck never got married.

Along with the assorted varieties of ducks, there are also Canadian Geese who also have absolutely no fear of people. This big ol’ dude didn’t care how close I got to snap his picture. At least he didn’t immediately switch into food-begging mode like those panhandling ducks.

Biggest cat toy ever, I thought.

But Canadian Geese have a nasty disposition. I’ve seen them attack each other, attack other birds or ducks, or even refuse to get out of the way of golfers on fairways. They’re just pricks.

There are also turtle families along the pond.

They go in and out of the water all day, alternately sunning themselves to warm up, and then back in the water to chase whatever fish the pond is stocked with. They sit so still in the sun you’d think they were decorative sculptures.

Turtles don’t turn up much in art either. While painters in history have loved to capture the look and texture of birds, ducks, waterfowl of all sorts (never mind all sorts of other animals), you won’t find a lot of turtles or tortoises in nature paintings.

But you’ll find ducks, especially in the works of Alexander Koester, a German naturalist artist of the turn of the last century who painted ducks nearly as much as Louis Wain painted cats. Koester had a nice quasi-impressionist style, and painted a ton of groups-of-ducks-on-water works. They must have been popular.

This one is typical – “Ducks At Lakeshore”

I bet none of them tried to bite Alexander.

I’m using ground turkey in my pasta sauce tonight, now that I’m home and settled in to watch more basketball, as well as “The Shadow of the Cat” on tonight’s Svengoolie.

Maybe the duck knew that. Maybe he was buds with the turkey. Maybe it was personal. Hmmm….

Friday Art: The Demoness of Urgency by Friedrich Schroder-Sonnenstern (1958)

Schroder-Sonnenstern is one of the better examples of the “art brut” style, dubbed “outsider art” by Jean Dubuffet as sort of a catch-all term for the sorts of wild amateur art that would often come out of mental asylums.

His works often depict strange figures combining human and animal form, painted in a bizarre almost cartoony style that reminds me a lot of the cartoon art of Ralph Steadman or Arnold Roth. The dude had a rough life, bouncing along from the army to the circus to prison to labor camps to alcoholism.

I like this one, with its pointy demonic shapes from the nose & tongue as well as the legs and that happenin’ cone hair-do. The propeller and sail are a nice touch too. And she’s literally hell on wheels.

This guy’s stuff needs to be animated into weird psychadelic cartoon nightmare material.

The Joys Of Nature

For the past couple of weeks, some local coyote has been crapping in my front yard during the late night hours. Today was dump #4, pretty much in the same spot of lawn that the previous leavings have been. This is how coyotes often mark central core territory, so I guess my house must be the hub of all local coyote activity while I’m sleeping the night away.

This explains all the packages from Acme left at my door.

I’ve got the only lawn in the immediate area comprised of thick and bushy St. Augustine grass – I have a feeling that this coyote must prefer it the way a lot of us prefer a particular brand of toilet paper.

I don’t walk around on my front lawn all that much so this isn’t a big deal, just an annoyance. I’d been cleaning it up each time but now I’ll see what happens if I leave it out there until garbage pick up day when I can shovel it into the bin.

Hopefully it won’t lead to a contest between a bunch of the damn things crapping all over my lawn to claim the territory. At that point, they ought to be helping me pay my mortgage.

Baseball Card of the Day: 1975 Topps Boog Powell

Boog looks like I feel now that I know that baseball is nearly back.

And a nice piece of big sports normal today – the Texas Rangers announced their stadium will be at 100% fan capacity on opening day, April 5. Hopefully other teams will follow.

Enough of this shit.

John Wesley “Boog” Powell played first base and outfield mostly for the great Oriole teams of the late 60s and 70s. He won the MVP in 1970, the year the Orioles won the Series. I remember him as one of those huge lumbering hulk type guys who’d bash the crap out of the ball and stand there like a sequoia for guys trying to slide.

Back in the day, opening up that first pack of Topps cards not only meant getting that year’s cards of whatever great players I was after… Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, etc etc… it also meant seeing what the cards would look like that year, design-wise. What did the front look like? What colors were for which team? Did they have insignias? And very, very important…. how many stats were on the back? Would we get complete stats, like in ’72, or would it be just a “last year’s stats” back like in ’71?

Well, 1975 gave us some BITCHIN SEVENTIES PSYCHADELIC COLORS, didn’t it? You had the 2 complimentary color border theme for different teams, along with those neon-bright colors and black shadow in the lettering. The photos were mostly decent. It was jarring in its day, to be honest… a step beyond the funky colors and fonts of the enormous 1972 set, and coming after 2 years of what I still think are some of best designed cards for Topps, the 1973 and 1974 sets.

Better than this year’s design – check this out:

The photo and border are great, I’ll give it that – digital photography is a big improvement over the old school cards, especially for action shots (as much as I missed the badly and obviously posed shots of yesteryear) – but look how small the lettering is and how tough it is to read the player’s name and position. You have to make an effort to find it, and it’s the first thing that should leap out at you. They’re overshadowed by the team insignia. And now Topps spends the entire year issuing extra cards for so many players that it’s a mess to keep track. I mean, I love Aaron Judge, but I would not want to have to hunt down a new action photo card of him every time he hits a home run. And it seems like that’s how often they come out. Bah.

But back in 1975? A fixed set, with the bonus cards and extras kept simple. Certainly easier to read. But yeah, those colors were a bit much. It’s a fun set to browse through now for all sorts of nostalgia purposes, but it’s still got that acid-trip vibe to it.

Maybe Boog is reacting to the acid trip on that card. He’s looking up in the sky, but he doesn’t see the pop up from the batter….HE SEES THROUGH TIME, MAN!!!!

I’m Worried About Inflation & Other Random Thoughts

Everything I know about Milton Friedman’s ideas tell me it’s coming. Not looking forward to it, either.

I’m sure Milton liked kreplach, but not at that price.

Today I officially became a “cord cutter,” and got rid of my satellite TV service. No way to really justify spending that amount of money to watch barely a half dozen channels from time to time. I was proud of myself for keeping the rep from spending too much of my time trying to talk me out of it by cracking lots of jokes. She took a liking to me for making her laugh and expedited the process in under 5 minutes.

Either that, or women just don’t want to talk to me.

In any case, it’s done. And now I’ll get my allotment of TV reruns via Locast, which I can recommend if you’re in one of their markets. They cover about half the country.

I spent the last few weeks burning through the two dozen or so saved movies in my DVR before I have to send it back. I might be movie-d out for a while, but it was worth it – I think I only bailed on one of ’em, all the others were good calls to record & watch, nearly all for the first time, or for the first time in many years. Maybe I’ll write about them in this space soon. I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while, even with the increased amount of time I’ve been stuck home with all this crapola.

In the meantime, I guess I should be buying gold, or bitcoin, or kreplach. Gotta put that nest egg somewhere.

Another GREATEST FILM EVER MADE

Certainly the most ’70s trailer I’ve seen. Just listen to that quasi-porn funk guitar soundtrack. Check out those bleached out colors. How about the car smashups with those old gas guzzling bombers?

Not ’70s enough for you? How about the stiff line readings for whatever dialogue we get, or spotting Richard Jaeckel as most likely cop and Lloyd Bochner clearly as mob boss?

Funny… this morning I was thinking about Bochner’s classic Twilight Zone where the aliens have him on the menu in “To Serve Man.” Then I remembered how be played Pia Zadora’s impotent husband in “The Lonely Lady.”

Ah well. He mostly did TV in the 70s and 80s, like Dynasty and the like. But he’s great in “Point Blank” and on an old Wild Wild West where he plays a demented genius puppeteer with life size puppets.

Jaeckel mostly played sleazebags, due to those wild eyes of his. Not quite Steve Railsback level, but close enough.

But a wheelchair with shotguns in the arms? I’m in! Time to hunt this piece of crap down and put it on my own menu.

I have a feeling that the two minute trailer will be more entertaining than the film itself, but let’s hope I’m wrong. Perhaps some heavy doses of slo-mo martial arts fight scenes and gratuitous nudity will truly make this one a classic.

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